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The Questioner-YA fantasy

Fiction Fantasy Young Adult

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#1 Joysworld

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:36 PM

I could use some help with my query. I worked on it a while back, put it aside, and am back working at it. I'm thinking maybe it's too short? I would add a personalized first paragraph as to why I'm querying a particular agent. I would appreciate any feedback.

 

Updated query in post 3.5 7. I have no idea if it's even getting any better or if I'm making more of a mess..

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Like all other fifteen-year-olds, Elora accepts the floating door that the deity Za resides behind, the dress that reflects a female’s purity, and the strict ordinances the town of Thermot enforces to keep the people safe from the harvester of souls known as Remintals. But that acceptance changes into questions after Elora learns that Remintals have harvested her parents’ souls because they rebelled against Za’s ways. She begins a quest to prove her parents’ loyalty to Za, but instead discovers a secret world and is confronted with choosing between a life of safety from Remintals or a life of freedom from ordinances.

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential that deals with blindly following religious decrees and highlights the problems with religious institutions and the people that run them.



#2 Bkrasnik

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 02:29 AM

I could use some help with my query. I worked on it a while back, put it aside, and am back working at it. I'm thinking maybe it's too short? I would add a personalized first paragraph as to why I'm querying a particular agent. I would appreciate any feedback.

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Like all other fifteen-year-olds, Elora accepts the floating door (a little bit confusing) that the deity Za resides behind, the dress that reflects a female’s purity (I am not sure if this works well here--like what is there to accept about a dress that reflects purity?), and the strict ordinances the town of Thermot enforces to keep the people safe from the harvester of souls known as Remintals (This last part of the sentence is really good). But that acceptance changes into questions after Elora learns that Remintals have harvested her parents’ souls because they rebelled against Za’s ways. She begins a quest to prove her parents’ loyalty to Za (if she proves this, will she get her parents back? if not, we want to know her motivation for wanting to prove this), but instead discovers a secret world (not enough context about this secret world and what it means for Elora) and is confronted with choosing between a life of safety from Remintals or a life of freedom from ordinances.

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential that deals with blindly following religious decrees and highlights the problems with religious institutions and the people that run them. (I really like this part and would want to read your book solely because of this sentence)

 

I don't think there is an issue with the query length as long as you do a good job on getting the story across. 


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#3 Joysworld

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 10:44 AM

Take 2.

 

Dear Agent,

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential that deals with blindly following religious decrees and highlights the problems with religious institutions and the people that run them.

 

Like all other fifteen-year-olds, Elora accepts the floating door in the sanctum that the deity Za resides behind, the power of her dress that determines a female’s purity and results in banishment if tarnished, and the strict ordinances the town of Thermot enforces to keep the people safe from the harvester of souls known as Remintals. But that acceptance changes into questions after Elora learns that Remintals have killed her parents and harvested their souls. Everyone in town now believes her parents were enemies, and therefore evil, so she begins a quest to clear their name, but instead discovers a secret world filled with others who do not readily accept the ways of the town and is confronted with choosing between obeying the suffocating rules that keep her safe from Remintals or a life of freedom from ordinances.



#4 NCruz

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 02:59 PM

Take 2.

 

Dear Agent,

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential that deals with blindly following religious decrees and highlights the problems with religious institutions and the people that run them.["THE QUESTIONER is a YA fantasy complete at 94,000 words." is all you need. Show the rest through the query, don't tell.]

 

Like all other fifteen-year-olds[Cliche wording.], Elora accepts the floating door in the sanctum that the deity Za resides behind[How would she not accept this? It doesn't seem important to note.], the power of her dress that determines a female’s purity and results in banishment if tarnished[What do you mean by her dress having power? And what does it mean to be tarnished?], and the strict ordinances the town of Thermot enforces to keep the people safe from the harvester of souls known as Remintals[What's the story really about? What drives Elora's story?]. But that acceptance changes into questions after Elora learns that Remintals have killed her parents and harvested their souls[Remintals are interesting. Consider introducing them earlier and tying them more tightly into Elora's story.]. Everyone in town now believes her parents were enemies, and therefore evil, so she begins a quest to clear their name, but instead discovers a secret world filled with others who do not readily accept the ways of the town and is confronted with choosing between obeying the suffocating rules that keep her safe from Remintals or a life of freedom from ordinances.[Sentence is way too long. Also, aren't Remintals evil creatures? It sounds like people look up to Remintals as givers of punishment...so why would people defend against them? Also, I'm not clear about the stakes. What does freedom entail?]



#5 Joysworld

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 06:13 PM

Take 3.

 

In the town of Thermot, obedience to Za, the deity of the world, protects citizens from the harvesters of souls known as Remintals.

 

Fifteen-year-old Elora accepts this until Remintals kill her parents and feast on their souls, leaving them branded as Za’s eternal enemy. She begins a quest to clear their name and discovers a secret world with people that have moved beyond obedience, who reveal hidden truths about the town. With this new discovery, Elora finds herself pulled between a life of soul crushing obedience with protection against Remintals and a life of freedom that endangers her to harvestation.

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.



#6 W.P.

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 08:07 AM

In the town of Thermot, obedience to Za, the deity of the world,  ((a bit too long. If it's just one god, you could trim it down to: "obedience to God Za")) protects citizens from the harvesters of souls known as Remintals  ((could also be simplified: "from the Remintals, harvesters of souls.")) 

 

Fifteen-year-old Elora accepts this until Remintals kill her parents and feast on their souls, leaving them branded as Za’s eternal enemy. She begins a quest to clear their name and discovers a secret world with people that have moved beyond obedience, who reveal hidden truths about the town. ((this sentence is a bit vague, can we have a bit more info or detail? something more concrete? "secret world" and "hidden truths" are very vague.)) With this new discovery, Elora finds herself pulled between a life of soul crushing obedience with protection against Remintals and a life of freedom that endangers her to harvestation. 

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.

 

 

The first sentence isn't particularly "hook-y" since it's exposition/set up. I wonder if you could start with the character instead. Also, I don't have a very good idea of who Elora is. I know she is brave and determined based on her actions, but that is all. I wonder if we could have a bit more from her.

 

The premise is very interesting and I think this query has its core nicely explained, but I feel like we could get a bit more from the query still. :)

 

 

If you have the time, would you take a look at my query as well? :)  http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=358017



#7 Joysworld

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 07:13 PM

Take 4. Here's another try. No idea if I'm getting any closer. I tried adding a hood at the beginning, but I don't know if it's a big no no or not or if it even works. I'm not sure how to address the comment that 'hidden truths' is a bit vague because a big portion of the book is Elora uncovering the truths. It's part of the journey. So am I suppose to be specific?

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Shadows dance in Elora’s mind, laughing. Their fangs snap at her. Her parents beg before the shadows, pleading for their life, for their essence.

 

Fifteen-year-old Elora must face the reality that her parents’ essence has been harvested due to their disobedience toward the deity Za. With her parents now dead, they are labeled as evil and as such the town demands Elora hate them. But she can’t. Instead she begins a journey to clear their name and discovers secrets about the town that pushes Elora towards questioning everything the town has taught her. With this new discovery, she is torn between soul crushing obedience that protects from harvestation and the joy of freedom that endangers her essence.

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.



#8 NCruz

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 06:26 PM

Take 4. Here's another try. No idea if I'm getting any closer. I tried adding a hood at the beginning, but I don't know if it's a big no no or not or if it even works. I'm not sure how to address the comment that 'hidden truths' is a bit vague because a big portion of the book is Elora uncovering the truths. It's part of the journey. So am I suppose to be specific?

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Shadows dance in Elora’s mind, laughing. Their fangs snap at her. Her parents beg before the shadows, pleading for their life, for their essence.[While this is descriptive in language, it's vague in plot. You haven't laid out the foundation of the story, so I'm not sure if the shadows are figurative or literal or a mix. It's too soon to play the mystery card.]

 

Fifteen-year-old Elora must face the reality that her parents’ essence has been harvested due to their disobedience toward the deity Za.[You're introducing a lot in the first sentence. The reader doesn't know what essence is or what their connection is to Za. You should weave in background info so the reader isn't suddenly thrust into a new, confusing world. The tricky part is finding a balance between too much and too little background. I highly suggest you look at successful queries for YA fantasy. See how they fit in their world-building.] With her parents now dead, they are labeled as evil and as such the town demands Elora hate them.[Too vague because we don't know why they are labeled evil, or why the town demands she hates her own parents. Again, you need to balance backstory with present story.] But she can’t. Instead she begins a journey to clear their name and discovers secrets about the town that pushes Elora towards questioning everything the town has taught her.[Long, awkward sentence to digest. The reader also doesn't know what this journey entails, why it would clear their names (or how), or what the town has taught her.] With this new discovery, she is torn between soul crushing obedience that protects from harvestation and the joy of freedom that endangers her essence.[What is the harvestation? What is essence?]

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.[Titles are always in caps: THE QUESTIONER. I suggest you leave out "series potential" because agents will bring it up if they're interested in the first book (this book).]

 

My biggest suggestion is to step back from the query and go on a reading splurge of successful YA fantasy queries. Study the craft.



#9 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 12:17 PM

Here are my suggestions:

 

Shadows dance in Elora’s mind, laughing. Their fangs snap at her. Her parents beg before the shadows, pleading for their life, for their essence.

 

Fifteen-year-old Elora must face the reality that her parents’ essence has been harvested due to their disobedience toward the deity Za. This is a better hook than your current first paragraph. What was going on last paragraph was unclear, but this one does a great job explaining the plot and stakes. With her parents now dead, they are labeled as evil and as such the town demands Elora hate them. But she can’t. Instead she begins a journey to clear their name and discovers secrets about the town that pushes Elora towards questioning everything the town has taught her. With this new discovery, she is torn between soul crushing obedience that protects from harvestation and the joy of freedom that endangers her essence. Since your query is basically only one paragraph, you have space for a lot more info. What will happen to Elora if she defies Za? What does she stand to gain from defying him? You also have room for details on her parents' deaths, any love interest, anything big which happens in the first third of your book, etc.

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.

 

Hope I've helped! A link to mine is below.



#10 taylorhale

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Posted 30 July 2018 - 12:22 PM

Take 4. Here's another try. No idea if I'm getting any closer. I tried adding a hood at the beginning, but I don't know if it's a big no no or not or if it even works. I'm not sure how to address the comment that 'hidden truths' is a bit vague because a big portion of the book is Elora uncovering the truths. It's part of the journey. So am I suppose to be specific?

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Shadows dance in Elora’s mind, laughing. Their fangs snap at her. Her parents beg before the shadows, pleading for their life, for their essence. (This is very vague and strange. I don't think it adds anything other than confusion)

 

Fifteen-year-old Elora must face the reality that her parents’ essence has been harvested due to their disobedience toward the deity Za. With her parents now dead, they are labeled as evil and as such the town demands Elora hate them. But she can’t. Instead, she begins a journey to clear their name and discovers secrets about the town that pushes Elora towards questioning everything the town has taught her. With this new discovery, she is torn between soul crushing obedience that protects from harvestation and the joy of freedom that endangers her essence.

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential.

 

Hi, sorry I'm late! 

 

Okay so, I didn't leave much inline because my opinion is overall. This is WAY too short. I think what you have is all of the information you /need/ to put across in your query, and now you just need to expand on it. Some things to consider: Who is Elora? What does the town mean to her? Does she feel betrayed by the town's decision to mark her parents as traitors? What has the town taught her? The stakes are kind of vague too and I don't fully understand what essence is. I'm assuming it's like life force, but you might need more context. Here's what I think you should do:

 

Start the query off with a statement about Elora and what she has always been taught. 

 

Fifteen-year-old Elora has always been taught ____. But then her parents' essence is harvested due to their disobedience toward the deity Za -- and Elora is torn between the town she's always trusted, and her loyalty to her family. 

 

Something like that.

 

It might also be worth it to explain what her parents did to disobey. Maybe even something as simple as a clarification of if what they did was right or wrong. Did they actually disobey, or were they wrongfully convicted?

 

Anyway, basically I'm saying that you need a lot more detail. You've laid out the overall plot, now you just need to go deeper. You have 250 words to do so.  Good luck :) sounds like a cool story!



#11 JessicaCohen

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Posted 30 July 2018 - 02:39 PM

Hi, there! Let me see what I can do for you here. Please take my recommendations with a grain of salt. In the end, it is YOUR work and YOUR story and ultimately YOUR decision whether to use what I suggest or stick to your guns--something I am adamant about even with my own work.

 

Shadows dance in Elora’s mind, laughing. Their fangs snap at her. Her parents beg before the shadows, pleading for their life, for their essence. As I see others have mentioned, and I'd have to agree, this reads really vague. You should start your query with a sharp hook. Something short and snappy and pointed that introduces the problem right away.

 

Fifteen-year-old I've read on query shark and other sites that it's not prevalent to mention your character's age if you specify that your book is YA anyway. Elora's must face the reality that her parents’ essence has have been harvested due to their disobedience toward the shadow deity Za. This sentence would probably be a better starting point for you. With her parents now dead, they are labeled as evil "are labeled"? I thought they were dead? and as such the town demands Elora hate them. But she can’t. Why? And how is that prevalent to main plot? Maybe they see HER as evil for being their child instead? Instead Now a pariah in her hometown, she begins a journey (is it an emotional journey? does she actually leave the town?) to clear their name and discovers secrets that have her questioning everything she was every taught there. about the town that pushes Elora towards questioning everything the town has taught her.  Try not to be repetitive with certain phrases (in this case "the town"). Agents will see that and assume your manuscript has the same issue. With this new discovery, she is torn between the soul crushing soul crushing is an odd word choice to use here, I think obedience that protects her from harvestation and the joy joy? she's not free yet right? of freedom that endangers her essence.  Essence is a bit confusing, because it leaves the reader questioning how exactly that works. Is it autonomy? Are her parents zombies? Empty shells? There's too much left open for interpretation here.

 

The Questioner is a 94,000 word young adult fantasy novel with series potential. Definitely don't mention the series potential thing. As others have pointed out as well, agents will pass on your book just for putting it in there. Hook them first with your awesome manuscript. Make them beg for more! I'd also recommend including a comparison here. So let's look at what I've left you with at this point and see if we can spice it up even more.

 

Elora's parents have been harvested for disobeying Za, the shadow deity of her hometown. Now a pariah, she begins a journey to clear their names and discovers secrets that have her questioning the traditions/laws she grew up with. With these new discoveries, she is torn between the steadfast obedience that protects her from harvestation and the desire for freedom that endangers her very life/autonomy.

 

Overall, I think you definitely need a little more info in your query, though it certainly captured my interest. Sounds like a great story, but the query needs a bit of fleshing out. Best of luck!

 

~Jessica

 

 







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